Senior Consulting Projects

About the Process

The Senior Consulting Project course in the Foster College of Business is a 16-week project completed by a team of four to six students. Depending on the size of the class, anywhere from 12 to 25 projects might be completed during each semester. There are two semesters each year. Project applications are submitted throughout the year and are reviewed on a rolling basis. Project selection is a two-stage process: The Consulting Project Committee provides an initial assessment of the projects to the business faculty; the approved applications are then presented to the business students, who make the final selection. Successfully chosen projects are a true collaboration between the student team and the client. In this regard, the committee gives greater consideration to projects that challenge the student teams to apply a range of program concepts and analytical frameworks. More meaningful projects also tend to include a primary data component in the form of a survey or series of interviews or focus groups.

Typically, the students choose their client during the second week of class. The client will be contacted by an Illinois SBDC staff member. The client is required to attend a brief virtual “SCP Program Overview” prior to the students contacting and meeting their client. When the student team meets with their client they develop the project scope. This process familiarizes the student team with the industry and current trends and practices occurring within it. Following the definition of the project scope, the students perform the industry or market assessment.

Please be advised that the number of applications received, generally exceeds the number of projects needed in a semester. Consequently, even strong applications may not initially be selected. In those instances, the application will remain “active” and be presented to student teams the following semester.

Some company projects are deemed less suitable as a Senior Consulting Project but may still be a good fit for one or more classes or programs within the Foster College of Business. Those applicants will be contacted with further details.

The consulting projects are provided at no cost to the companies that meet the SBA definition of a small business (generally 500 employees or less).

Purpose of a Senior Consulting Project

  • To provide students with an authentic, real-world business problem or opportunity for analysis and recommendations. This business consulting experience allows students to apply their skills and experience by identifying relevant issues, analyzing alternatives, and making recommendations.
  • To support local businesses by offering the consulting services of a team of four to six talented students who combine their business experience with the lessons learned during their Bradley education. This assistance benefits companies by contributing to improved strategies and enhanced operational effectiveness.

Benefits to the Client

Following are the Senior Consulting Project deliverables to the client:

  • A thorough, professionally written report with detailed analyses and specific recommendations. The document will include problem definition, substantial fact-based analysis, recommendations, and implementation suggestions.
  • An oral presentation to the client of the team's findings, including thorough discussion and any needed follow-up.
  • A Client Satisfaction Survey will be requested from the client, at the end of the semester, as an assessment of the team's work.

Client Selection Criteria

  • The business problem or development opportunity described in the project application must be challenging to an experienced manager and must also draw on the skills and knowledge acquired by students.
  • The scope of the project must allow it to be realistically completed within the senior project's sixteen-week time-frame and must match the skills and capabilities of the consulting team.
  • The company/organization must designate (a) an executive-level project champion who can manage the client’s internal resources required to complete the project; and (b) a key contact person who will serve as the primary day-to-day interface with the student consulting team. A committed and active client liaison assures a positive outcome.
  • The organization is required to share their internal financial, product, and market data required for project completion. Each student and professor sign a confidentiality agreement.

Client and Student Team Expectations

  • Clients should expect to have weekly contact with the student team. That communication may be in the form of an email, in-person meeting, or a phone call.
  • Students will act as consultants and, therefore, should not be treated as an employee.
  • Clients should expect students to act in ethical business standards.
  • All students sign and are bound by a confidentiality agreement that outlines the information provided by the client is not to be shared, and is used only in the performance of their specific project.
  • Clients are to provide students with requested information in a timely manner. The more detailed information the client provides to their student team (including financial statements), the better the job the students can do in performing an organizational and industry assessment, and in making recommendations for the client.
  • The information requested by the students is often tied to a deliverable in the class with a due date. Timely receipt of the information from the client will assist the students with staying on schedule to complete the project. Student teams need to respect the time constraints of their clients, and provide sufficient notice, with expectations on due dates for information requested.
  • As part of the research to be conducted, the student team will be developing and administering a survey. The students may ask for your input on key areas of interest to you for developing survey questions that are most relevant to helping your business. Students may also ask for your assistance in distributing the survey through an email list, your website, social media channels, etc. in order to reach more respondents.

Types of Projects

All Senior Consulting Projects should be completed in a framework that considers the impact on a company’s position and competitive strength in the marketplace.

Below are examples of past projects:

  • Business plan for a new venture or product
  • Marketing plan and associated financials for a new product or service
  • Study evaluating the feasibility of establishing a business or new location
  • Strategic analysis of how to combat reduced market share from competitive entry
  • Reorganization plan following massive corporate downsizing
  • Short-and long-term business plan
  • Analysis of emerging technology
  • Business plan to guide the development & implementation of a new strategic business unit
  • A plan for the development & implementation of a direct marketing customer database
  • Development of a strategic, financial, and information system for an existing small business
  • A plan analyzing the feasibility and implementation issues of an advanced engineering training program
  • Analysis of major financial decision on whether to go public
  • A plan for analyzing outsourcing decisions
  • Feasibility and market analysis
  • Environmental Industry Analysis
  • Strategic growth plan


The Senior Consulting Project is the capstone class for all Bradley University business majors. The program is designed to provide business students with an opportunity to apply all of the skills they have developed during their time at Bradley to a real-world business situation. Bradley's senior consulting program has been in existence since 1972.

Small teams of four to six students from a mixture of disciplines (Accounting, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Management and Leadership, Management Information Systems, and Marketing) are brought together to serve as consultants for a local firm. The student team works directly with a point of contact, from the company, and is advised by one of the University’s business professors. The project lasts a full semester (16 weeks) and culminates in an oral and written presentation of recommendations from the students to the client.

Applicants may propose any type of business-related project, as long as it contains specific deliverables. Some common projects include developing marketing plans, feasibility studies, and conducting customer surveys.

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Contact Information

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Any area small business would benefit from working with the SBDC. there are so many useful resources that would benefit any business!”

Steadfast Counseling, Peoria IL

It was a pleasure working with a group of business minded students who shared an interest in learning about our industry. They had great questions and put together valuable recommendations for my business. I hope this was a good experience for them as well to have real life data to use to analyze for their project. Overall, I think the project is a great collaboration between small businesses and a local college in our community.”

Camp Bow Wow, Peoria IL

Working with the Illinois Small Business Development Center has been a crucial key factor in the success and growth of starting a small business. They have offered crucial information and resources that has been paramount in turning this dream into a reality.”

Rosie Acres Bakery, Chillicothe IL

From the beginning of the semester, I was quickly impressed by the students' professionalism, respect, and kindness towards me and one another. They all seemed to take this project seriously and were eager to learn more about my business. The discussions we had were enlightening and left our meetings with homework and something to look forward to at the next meeting. The group dug deeper into this project than I anticipated. I was blown away by their presentation and wish I had brought my staff to it.”

J. Draper Glass, Peoria

I was very pleased with the high quality of the business students, their knowledge, professionalism, and willingness to help our small business! Students had diverse expertise in accounting, marketing, social media, surveys, etc. The students provided valuable insight into our business processes, and gave us a lot to think about by providing an "outside" point-of-view. The students were cream-of-the-crop!

Firehouse Pizza & Pub, East Peoria IL

The Bradley Team provided a set of comprehensive and well thought out ideas all aimed at growing our business. Their polling of customers was eye-opening and their financial analysis was impressive. In a very short amount of time, these students gained a full understanding of our business and the markets we serve.”

Dan LaTurno, President/CEO
Peoria Production Solutions